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" A book isn't noise to drown out other noise. "
" The novel is a thing of irony and ambiguity. That's at the heart of 'J', a world that has stopped arguing with itself. We have to keep our equilibrium of hate, which is argument. But on the Internet, you find a unanimity of response, and in 'J,' there's a fear of that, that discourse becomes a statement of political or ideological belief. "
" When people speak to me of the torment of writing, I can think only of what it was like before I wrote: once writing meant writing and not thinking about writing, I knew nothing of any torment. "
" Leaned on by Turkey and understandably wary of false equivalences - for not every death is a massacre, and not every war is genocidal - Israel connives in Armenian genocide denial. "
" If it's bathos you want - and I suspect we are all bathos junkies in the end - nothing gives it to you quite like watching sport. Unless it's playing sport. "
" With 'J', at a deep base level, there is still some comedy, but that masculinist voice that had driven so many of my novels I suddenly did not want to occupy. I wasn't reneging on it; I just didn't want to do it. "
" The young come in many guises: vigorous and passionate, vindictive and mean-spirited. And not every person over 65 is dozing in a retirement home. "
" The queue and the fan are, of course, closely related in that fans will queue any length of time in any weather to see, touch, watch, hear, read, wear, or simply enjoy proximity to the object of their devotion. "
" There was no question of ever sending us to Jewish schools... They wanted us out there. They wanted us to be lawyers and doctors. They wanted us out of the religious thing, apart from that ethnic bonding. "
" Imagine the anticlimax of opening a novel you'd just got Dostoyevsky to sign and finding 'Keep smiling - Fyodor.' "
" As a young man, I wooed, unsuccessfully, with Puccini. It's important to get your operas right. "
" Sometimes it's best to speak from ignorance: that way, you can see the wood without being distracted by the trees. "
" It would be nice if we could all agree to this proposition: popularity is not the same as achievement. "
" When I see ultra-Orthodox Jews stamping all over Jaffa, or when I see them deciding who is a Jew, I think: 'What's happened to the grand dream of Zionism?' I don't like to see ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. What's wrong with Manchester? "
" There is a shop close to where I live, outside which, on certain nights of the month - I've no idea if the transit of the moon determines precisely when - fans of designer skateboards queue from early evening in order - well in order, I presume - to be among the first to jump on a skateboard when the shop opens in the morning. "
" I am happiest now. There's nothing like running out of time to make you realise you're in the right skin, with the right person, and that the Apocalypse will happen with or without you. "
" Shake any institution of higher learning, and a dozen boycotters will fall out of it. "
" I've always felt that desire. To get a woman to throw back her head in laughter is a hot thing. "
" I was a 'reverence for life' man - 'see life steadily and see it whole' - in my days as a lecturer in English lit. We are, I argued, if not exactly 'saved' by reading, at least partially 'repaired' by it: made the better morally and existentially. "
" Whoever has once been truly unsettled by a work of the imagination will never give loyalty to a single idea, belief system, religious faith or party. "
" Everything is allowable in literature, but what is not allowable in criticism is objection on the grounds of probability. "
" Even the wordiest of men know there's a time to button it. "
" Literature is a house with many mansions. "
" It isn't only in the name of free speech that the views of an itchy polemicist should be tolerated - and I say itchy polemicist promoting thought, not itchy ideologue promoting violence - but because provocation is indispensable to the workings of a sound, creative culture. "
" Many a woman has suffered at the hands of a Paul Morel. There's more than one way of being brutal. "
" When I was teaching at Cambridge, I sold handbags on the market. "
" Let discernment in matters of fashion and entertainment determine who should get the vote, and half the country would be disenfranchised. "
" Nostalgic myself, I am a sucker for other men's nostalgia. "
" Alarm bells ring when a politician stands haughty upon his honour. "
" It is against the spirit of our non-discriminating times to openly prefer one sort of music to another, so let's just say that hearing grand orchestral music in a public place is exhilarating in a way that hearing popular music never can be, if only because, in a popular music age, a full orchestra is less familiar to our ears. "
" I'm an old-fashioned English lit. man. Straight down the line - it's George Eliot, it's Dickens, it's Dr. Johnson, it's Jane Austen. "